Fodor's Expert Review Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Valley Castle/Palace/Chateau Fodor's Choice

One of the most magical "castles" in all of Europe, much-photographed Kylemore Abbey is set on a reedy lake with a backdrop of wooded hillside. The storybook Gothic Revival, gray-stone mansion was built as a private home between 1861 and 1868 by Mitchell Henry, a member of Parliament for County Galway, and his wife, Margaret, who had fallen in love with the spot during a carriage ride while on their honeymoon. The Henrys spared no expense—the final bill for their house is said to have come to £1.5 million—and employed mostly local laborers, thereby abetting recovery from the famine (this area was among the worst hit in all of Ireland). Adjacent to the house (a short walk from the Abbey) is a spectacular neo-Gothic chapel, which, sadly, became the burial place for Margaret, who died after contracting "Nile fever" on a trip to Egypt. In 1920, nuns from the Benedictine order, who fled their abbey in Belgium during World War I, sought refuge in Kylemore and ran a girls' boarding school... READ MORE

One of the most magical "castles" in all of Europe, much-photographed Kylemore Abbey is set on a reedy lake with a backdrop of wooded hillside. The storybook Gothic Revival, gray-stone mansion was built as a private home between 1861 and 1868 by Mitchell Henry, a member of Parliament for County Galway, and his wife, Margaret, who had fallen in love with the spot during a carriage ride while on their honeymoon. The Henrys spared no expense—the final bill for their house is said to have come to £1.5 million—and employed mostly local laborers, thereby abetting recovery from the famine (this area was among the worst hit in all of Ireland). Adjacent to the house (a short walk from the Abbey) is a spectacular neo-Gothic chapel, which, sadly, became the burial place for Margaret, who died after contracting "Nile fever" on a trip to Egypt. In 1920, nuns from the Benedictine order, who fled their abbey in Belgium during World War I, sought refuge in Kylemore and ran a girls' boarding school here until 2010. Three reception rooms and the main hall are open to the public, as are a crafts center and cafeteria. You can prebook a guided hike and nature walk (€3) uphill to the life-size statue of Jesus for an unforgettable view of the tranquil abbey and lake from above. There's also a 6-acre walled Victorian garden; a shuttle bus (free with admission) from the abbey to the garden departs every 15 minutes during opening hours. An exhibition and video explaining the history of the house can be viewed year-round at the abbey, and the grounds are freely accessible most of the year. Be sure to visit the "Ironing Stone," a short walk from the chapel. Legend has it that this massive stone was tossed here by Irish mythical warrior Cú Chulainn. If you stand with your back to the rock and throw a pebble over the stone three times, your wish will be granted.

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Castle/Palace/Chateau Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Letterfrack, Co. Galway  Ireland

095-52001

www.kylemoreabbey.com

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €13

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